Laikipia County is playing leading role in reducing carbon emissions

Laikipa County Governor Joshua Irungu. [Mose Sammy, Standard]

On November 15, 2022, the United Nations released the World Population Prospects Report. Coincidentally, on the same day, the World expected the birth of its eighth billion inhabitant.

The report indicated that for the first time, India's population will surpass the Chinese in 2023. Globally, more people live in the East than West and Africa's position in the world population race seems to have maintained a steady momentum.

In 2022, 17 per cent of the world's population is living in Africa. Kenya's population is estimated to be slightly above 54 million. This is after a 1.93 per cent growth rate on the 2021 population estimate and only the second time when the annual growth rate is below 2.0 per cent.

A declining fertility rate provides a time-bound opportunity for accelerated economic growth per capita with a bigger piece of the population transitioning to working age. The ensuing shift in the age distribution results in a plausible demographics dividend with the population's dependency ratio reducing.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that 278 million Africans are affected by hunger. In most places, food insecurity is a direct consequence of environmental degradation, drought and biodiversity loss. Closer home, 10 million Kenyans are food insecure.

Numerous strategies and policy frameworks have been developed pre and during devolution to support the fight against food insecurity. The resources that have been directed to the policy route are in billions compared to limited resources that go into subsidies for the actual production of food.

The world over, there is little promise to combat the extremes of climate, slow down biodiversity losses and care for the planet. Industrial economies are reneging on their pledges to compensate for their contribution to greenhouse gases emissions. Despite contributing the least to the global menace, Africa is on the receiving end of the ensuing adversity.

This reality should rally the continent to a collective strategy that defines the main priorities, interventions and actions required to build resilient capacities for adaptation, reduce the vulnerability of affected communities, and manage the risks related to climate change and climate-induced extreme events as well as to unlock the benefits of the mitigation potential of the continent.

Reducing greenhouse gas emission is crucial to the fight against climate change. Governments are managing their emissions through carbon trading, a market-based system that provides economic incentives for countries and businesses to reduce their carbon footprint.

Unlike voluntary offsets where consumers choose to fund activities that balance out their carbon footprints, funding reforestation programmes which absorb carbon dioxide, carbon trading is a legally binding scheme that caps total emissions and allows organisations to trade their allocations. This results in a "cap and trade system" where organisations are incentivised to carbon neutrality through massive savings on reduced emissions.

In Laikipia, the Northern Kenya Rangelands Carbon Project (NKRCP), has led the world in soil carbon removal for rangelands restoration in Kenya. NKRCP is the first-ever project that uses rangeland activities in community conservancies to generate revenue for local communities.

The project plans to remove some 50 million tonnes of carbon dioxide -the annual equivalent emission for 10,000,000 cars-in the next 30 years. The project was recognised as a lighthouse by the Natural Climate Solution Alliance at COP27 in Sharm el-Sheik, Egypt on November 17, 2022.